Allen Andres

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
My undergraduate research work was conducted under the tutelage of Dr. Ann K. Sakai and Dr. Stephen G. Weller from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The research work in the Sakai/Weller lab deals with the study of the evolution of plant breeding systems. My project involved the analysis of the heritabilities and genetic correlations of sex traits in Schiedea salicaria, an endangered endemic Hawaiian species, to assess its genetic potential to evolve separate sexes. Studies concerning the evolution of plant breeding systems play a key role in understanding and predicting the future impact actions may have on endangered plant species and important agricultural crops.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I first became involved in my lab as a work-study student during the fall of my freshman year at UCI. I enjoyed maintaining a vegetable garden annually at my home, so working with plants in the lab was a great opportunity for me to work with things I liked. Because of my interest in the research done in the Sakai/Weller lab, I soon began a project in my sophomore year.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

I can easily say, without a doubt in my mind, that my research project has been the highlight of my undergraduate experience here at UCI. Unlike the classes and labs I have taken, participating in undergraduate research allows one to experience first-hand the methodology of conducting research. My experience as an undergraduate researcher has allowed me to have a better understanding and appreciation for the kind of work and dedication necessary for completing a quality research project.

4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?
My favorite experience concerning my research project was my tremendous feeling of accomplishment upon its completion. The spring quarter of my junior year was a major crunch time for my project. The data had just rolled in, due dates for the Excellence in Research Program were coming fast, and the analysis of the data had to be done ASAP. To make things worse, midterms loomed around the corner! I truly cannot recall another time in my life where I have felt so much pressure. With a great deal of luck and good fortune, everything soon turned out to be fine, and the project was finally complete. I would not have been able to finish a quality project if not for the help of my ever-helpful lab mates. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Ann K. Sakai, Dr. Stephen G. Weller, Dr. Theresa M. Culley, Amy Dunbar-Wallis, and of course my fellow lab students for all their help.
5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

My goal for the future is to attend graduate school and pursue a career in the field of agricultural biotechnology. I want to become involved in improving agriculturally important crops through both conventional plant breeding and biotechnology. I am enthusiastic about the potential possibilities that may stem from this kind of work, and hope that someday I may be able to play a role in improving our current agricultural technologies in order to support our future needs. Being involved in the undergraduate research program at UCI has given me the confidence to decide that I want to make the most out of my training in biological sciences, to make use of my research experience, and to make the most of myself by pursuing a career in the field that I have come to

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?
My advice to any student interested in a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity is to go for it! The experience you will gain will help you in making a decisive decision as to what you want to do in the future. It will make you feel more confident in yourself, and will make you realize that you actually have a lot more potential within yourself to reach for your dreams. Pick an area that interests you the most, get in touch with a faculty member in the field, and get started right away!

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '02 Ping Chen
Nov. '02 Sanjay Naran
Oct. '02 Alana Shilling
Sep. '02 Michael Vongphoe
Aug. '02 Ryan Wright
Jul. '02 Adrian Fernandez
Jun. '02 Allen Andres
May '02 Elizabeth Tsai
Apr. '02 David Bear
Mar. '02 Lorrel Brown
Feb. '02 Jiri Herrmann
Jan. '02 Kathi Hamor
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